The Ultimate Gift: Your Paycheck
This is a guest post by Tim Lindsay, the guy that manages my affiliate advertising accounts at Linkoffers and Cardsynergy. He’s on his own path to financial independence and wanted to share his own take on the role that wealth plays in our personal lives.
The Ultimate Gift?
Most people would say the pinnacle of life is when you score a top level job in your field, when your kids are born, when you land a full ride to college or sign a multi-million dollar contract with your favorite sports team. Achieving financial independence (FI) in life is typically an afterthought. That is why we see hundreds of celebrities and lottery winners squandering their money and years later filing for bankruptcy. Just look at MC Hammer, Kim Basinger and Michael Jackson.
Personal finance bloggers are different and it really does not take all that long to see that their goal is simple: to achieve their family’s FI as early as possible. I am currently working towards that myself! Becoming FI involves living a frugal lifestyle followed by saving a great deal of money over a period of years and paying low taxes. How you actually save that money is all up to you as long as it involves saving and not spending. For some it is buying and investing in gold, silver, index funds, or rental properties and for others it involves buying and investing in profitable, well run companies that will pay back dividends year after year.
For most, the Ultimate Gift may be a luxury cruise, a brand new car, boat, plane or just about any item you are longing for. But consider an even bigger “Ultimate Gift”. After reaching financial independence you continue to work full time or part time while giving away all of your income from that job. No, I am not talking about volunteering on a Friday afternoon from noon till three P.M. I am talking about working an actual job and giving away everything you make. That statement right there would floor most people in the world, even the personal finance bloggers and savers.
In America we are taught to consume, consume some more and if you really want something then put it on credit. So the thought of working after you reached FI is CRAZY, especially to give all your money to a friend, family member or complete stranger. I can see most people saying, “They are not my responsibility. After all don’t they realize everyone should have 6 months of living expenses in cash so when emergencies arise you can still pay your bills?” Would it be different for the family that had an emergency fund with 6 months of living expenses in the bank? What happens if they blew through all of that money paying medical expenses and paying their daily bills? What if they were great with their money; however, due to unforeseen circumstances they are flat broke and just need a little help?
Ultimately the question for each of us is would we go back to work to help a friend, family or stranger in need? Please comment and let me know what you would actually do. Would you only go back to help a family member or would you actually go back to help a friend or stranger in need? I know most are thinking their family will help. My question to you is what happens if they have no family? For those that would go back to work would you put a time limit on your generosity? After all if you are financially independent you may want to travel the world or spend time with kids or grand kids.
I really hope that everyone enjoyed this article. The purpose of this article is to get everyone thinking and to see how far you really would go to help someone in need, even if it meant going back to work.
Personally going back to work to help someone in need would be a decision I would not take lightly. It would be a decision my wife and I would have to think and pray about in detail if we were financially independent and capable of still working. Like most, I would think I would want an open book into their finances. At the end of the day I would go back; however, I would want to set a time limit of six to eight months. I would say that an experience like that would make me grateful for what I have and make me a stronger person along with setting a great example for my kids. You can think of going back to work to help someone as Dave Ramsey on steroids, after all this final step is to give money away.
Root of Good’s response:
Tim poses a really great question, and one I’m not sure I can honestly give an answer to without actually facing the decision in real life. I have reached financial independence, so now I just need a family member or close friend to require tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t think I would go back to full time work to help a complete stranger, but I might donate a relatively small sum of money that wouldn’t set me back financially (and maybe make a cut in spending elsewhere to offset that gift).
Like Tim, I think I would want to know about their finances. I would probably make a judgment about how smart they have been with their money and if, through no fault of their own, they really need a large sum of money to survive, I might go back to work full time to help out. Tim’s six to eight month time limit seems reasonable, as it would be hard to sacrifice years and years of my life to help someone else out.
I’d have to look at the other demands placed on my time from my own wife and kids, and if going back to work didn’t severely burden them and make life too difficult, I might head back to work. It would be a tough choice and one not made lightly for sure! We have a small amount of funds in our budget to help out in small ways already, so there may be a way to help financially without the need to return to work full time.
In the meantime, I would try to help out however I can by offering a short term loan, babysitting their kids, giving a ride to medical appointments, and pointing them in the direction of the right charitable or governmental organization to get them the help they need. Sometimes people just need a little perspective on their situation from a fresh pair of eyes, and that’s all the help they need.
What would you do? After reaching FI, would you go back to full time work to help a family member? A friend? A complete stranger?